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Edinburgh Live reports: Feeling fresh this morning? Well, you probably weren’t as as invigorated as the 69 women who ran into the sea at Wardie Bay in Edinburgh for a sunrise wild swim in honour of International Women’s Day.

With the sea at a brisk 5.5 degrees, they gathered in wetsuits and swimsuits to celebrate their own bodies and those of women everywhere – sharing their message of solidarity and body positivity.

Organised by activist Danni Gordon of The Chachi Power Project and photographer Anna Deacon of the Wild Swimming Photography Project, the event drew swimmers from all across the Scottish Central Belt, Fife, East and West Lothian.

They were inspired by the joy of wild swimming, but also by the intense and sometimes heart-breaking stories people told to explain why they had decided to take it up – among these stories were a number related to body confidence. Read more…

Discover how changing attitudes towards the body forced swimmers out of open water and into the chlorinated confinement of the swimming pool.

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The Guardian reports: Nationwide, there is a boom in wild swimming. Even the fashion pack, rarely ones to embrace the great outdoors, have got involved. Anne-Marie Curtis, editor-in-chief of Elle, swims regularly at the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond on Hampstead Heath in London, as does designer Louise Gray.

Four years ago, printmaker Katherine Anteney entered a triathlon. While training, she remembered how good swimming felt – the peace and the adrenaline, the pleasure of spreading your fingers wide in cool water or kicking your legs in a firm breaststroke. She began visiting lakes regularly. “At first I wore a wetsuit, but ditched that pretty quickly as it felt like it kept me removed from the water.”

Today, Anteney’s favourite swimming spot is the river Test in Southampton. Even in the winter, she will swim a handful of times a month, and the local train now greets her and her swimming partner Pam with a hoot. “Where we get changed is called the Slab. It’s a concrete culvert right next to the tracks on the mainline to Salisbury. We always get a honk and a wave. Those poor fellas have seen our bare bums too many times.”

Anteney advises swimming with a companion for camaraderie and motivation. “We swim upstream heads up and chatting, and then back with head-down crawl. In the winter, we wear woolly hats and I keep my glasses on, because then I have an excuse not to put my face in.” Occasionally, they go in the dark with head torches. She would advise investing in neoprene shoes for warmth. “I hate getting mud on my feet,” she says. “Earplugs help keep you warmer but they mean you can’t do much chatting, so I’ve stopped wearing them. I have learned the importance of getting warm quickly afterwards and anticipating the afterdrop (where your core temp carries on dropping after you get out). I couldn’t live without my Dryrobe.” This combines a windproof outer shell with a synthetic lambswool lining.

“Swimming is the new yoga,” says the journalist and screenwriter Marion Hume. “I love that fashion has finally ‘got’ swimwear to swim in, from Stella McCartney’s whimsical pieces to Ashley Graham’s, which are so body-positive.” She prefers the comfort of a lido – just wild enough, without the risk of reeds or fish. “I swim at Parliament Hill Lido, which is lined in metal that sparkles in the sun – it’s like moving through a James Turrell art installation.” Like Anteney, she recommends neoprene boots – “I tell myself they are Margiela circa 1980s, when in fact they just look ridiculous.”

If the thought of plunging into the cold – and open water often is cold, even in the warmer weather – in just a swimming costume fills you with horror, a wetsuit is always an option. Consider the thickness carefully, says consultant Charlotte Goodhart, who swims in the West Reservoir at Manor House, north London. “My advice would be to wear a wetsuit of at least 2mm thickness – the water might not feel that cold but you’ll gradually get quite chilly – though gloves and socks aren’t as necessary.”

Before you grab your goggles, consider your swimming aims, says Anteney. “The last thing it’s about is exercise,” she says. “It’s about being in the water and feeling it all around you. Being at eye level with nature. An early-morning swim before work makes the rest of the day manageable. It keeps me sane – even though everyone else thinks we are insane.” Read more on this story…

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Sky News reports: The plans include a 25-metre swimming pool, children’s splash area, pavilion and cafe for the public. Water will be naturally treated and heated with alternative energy sources.

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But the original features of the Grade II listed Georgian building will be maintained, including its crescent shape, which mimics the city’s renowned architecture.

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The baths first opened in 1815 after the Bathwick Water Act, which banned nude bathing in the city’s river.

It closed in 1984 and had a brief second life as a trout farm but has fallen into disrepair. It’s been maintained by volunteers and more than £800,000 has been raised to help the renovation work.

Discover the history of British swimming just £11.11 inc P&P today only…

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ITV.com Reports: The 33-year-old was joined for the final kilometre of his 1,791-mile, 157-day Great British Swim around the mainland by 400 fellow swimmers in Margate on Sunday.

Edgley left the Kent town on June 1, swimming in a clockwise direction, and his arrival on the beach at 8.40am was his first time on dry land since then.

Swimming up to 12 hours a day, including through the night, he has battled strong tides and currents in cold water, storms, jellyfish and swimming into the chilly autumn.

His efforts have taken their toll on his body, including shoulder pain and wetsuit chafing, plus salt water exposure.

Edgley’s odyssey was compared from the outset to the feat of Captain Matthew Webb, who in 1875 became the first person to swim the English Channel.

But, while more than 1,900 swimmers have since made the crossing, few are likely to follow in Edgley’s wake. Fifty-seven of the swimmers who joined him on Sunday morning have swum the Channel.

Edgley was accompanied by Cornish sailor Matthew Knight, supporting from his catamaran Hecate.

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The Guardian reports: A new drive to encourage private schools to share their swimming pools is being launched by the government amid concerns about the number of children who emerge from primary school unable to swim.

Fewer than half of all British children are able to swim 25 metres by the time they reach the age of 11. Schools will get a share of a £320m fund to help boost swimming lessons, he said.

While the Department for Education has not proposed any new measures to compel private schools to open their pools, Hinds said he was personally determined to “make sure our children grow up safe and water confident”. “Many independent schools are already doing this, but others can and must do more to help every child in their community,” he said.

This year’s figures from the Independent Schools Council, which represents 1,326 private schools in the UK, show that of 603 of its member schools that have pools, 304 already share them in some way with state school pupils.

Meanwhile, 72% of primary schools use public pools for swimming lessons, while 15% use their own pool and 10% use another private facility.

Julie Robinson, general secretary of the ISC, said that there was “much goodwill from schools fortunate to have facilities that may be in short supply locally”. She added that “raising awareness of partnerships helps more state schools and independent schools develop mutually beneficial programmes”.

“Headteachers who have opened up their facilities tell us it’s a win-win for the schools and the community,” said Charles Johnston, director of property for Sport England, a public body under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. “It allows facilities to be used at times when otherwise they’d be empty.”

Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, who is responsible for sport, said: “This barely moves the dial on the pressing need to improve the health of our children, when six out of 10 are leaving primary school either overweight or obese. Read more on this story…

See also: Mass Education Saved Lives

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Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

Just as austerity measures are forcing local authorities to reduce opening times at swimming pools across the country; the BBC reveals that nearly one in four of us here in the UK are suffering from anxiety and depression and that this suffering could be greatly reduced by a regular trip to the pool.

Although this understanding is not new (see: Swimming Could Cheer Up Britain) appreciating the benefits of swimming could help stem the exodus of swimmers from pools and bolster the efforts of those keen to return to swimming outdoors. ‘They must be mad’ is a common response from those who find it strange to see people river swimming, but perhaps the fact that that we do swim proves the contrary.

The Independent reports: According to a YouGov poll commissioned by Swim England, 1.4 million adults in the UK have found that swimming has had a positive effect on their anxiety or depression.

Furthermore, almost half a million of British adults who swim and have mental health issues have stated that swimming consistently has resulted in them making less frequent visits to a medical professional in order to discuss their mental health.

The poll found that around 3.3 million Brits over the age of 16 who have mental health issues swim at least once every two to three weeks.

When questioned about how swimming affects their mental state, 43 per cent of the swimmers stated that it makes them feel happier, 26 per cent said that it makes them feel more motivated and 15 per cent said that it makes it easier for them to cope with everyday life.

 

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The Telegraph reports: It was Sept 6 1988 and he was 11 years and 336 days old, the youngest person to ever swim the English Channel. Although Cap Gris-Nez is only 20 miles from Dover, his route had taken 32 miles, allowing for the pull of the tides.

Thirty years on, his incredible record still stands. Not that Gregory, now 41, talks about it much. He’s the record-breaking British swimmer you’ve never heard of.

That his record is unbeaten is in part due to the Channel Swimming Association banning those under 12 from swimming the channel, just weeks after his crossing.

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Gregory takes his daughters swimming, and while he admits his wife would probably have something to say about them doing a similar challenge, he is in no doubt that the world we live in today has become much more risk-averse. “Have we lost something? Probably. Are we in a better place? I don’t think so. Because that was an enormously enriching childhood for me. It’s been the foundation of what’s been a very happy life and something I will pass on to my children.”

To carry that message, Gregory has written a memoir charting the extraordinary three years of his training to triumph, called A Boy in the Water.

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